09-12-1941 Letter from Palestine (5 pages)

9/12/41                                                                         A.I.F. Abroad.

                        Dear Mum & all the Family


Well old Dear, I guess by the time this arrives you will have had your old Christmas Week (?) Once more, & during December, you & I & Till have passed over another Birthday. I hope you received my Cable old Dear. I gave it plenty of time to catch you for the 1st or is it the 2nd? Now with the little Japs poking their nose into this War, our mails may be a little longer in going & coming to & fro, but remember Mother Mine, I will always be thinking of you & all my Brothers & Sisters wherever I may stray. Don’ know how long this will be reaching you, or how many moves the Jap’s may make before then. But Mumsie you must not do too much worrying & take no notice of all the wild rumours you are certain to hear, and if a few of them do slip through & get a footing, we will come back & chase them out again.

Had a nice little parcel from my Adeline a few day’s ago, a nice knitted Pull-over, pr gloves & a lovely wallet. Isn’t she a Darling, a nice letter today from her also, (she must write every second day), & she enclosed a little felt Kangaroo which her Department at McWhirters made for Liberty week & sold in stalls. I will pin it on my Tunic for luck when I go where the noise is again. Also received a letter, nicely & kindly worded from the Ladies A.I.F. Welfares Committee Camooweal & enclosed was a £1 worth of Canteen Orders. So they haven’t forgotten me either. Walked over the hill to show it to another ‘Weal’ lad or two & they had all received the same. I answered with a Btn. Xmas Card with a few words on it. I

t is still showery here & very cold, especially at early morn when I must jump up & out on Parade go, but during the day it warms up. All the Orchards are nice & fresh looking since the rain started, but the only sign of life I notice growing out in the sand-hills is a bulb stalky looking weed but I suppose much more may spring up later on. Haven’t heard of Bill Mathers or Keith Hickmott & my other Western Cobbers are a long way from me tonight. It is very hard to stay with mates, but over here Mum, everyone is a mate to each other & good mates too.

 The big bouncing bully gets very quiet, & some little Office lad often has more nerve then he ever suspected. There are very few pests where I am now Mother, (only Sergeants) but I will keep Lexy’s insect powder when it arrives for some future day. It would been very handy some time ago, it was very kind of her to think of me, but she was always nice to know. I am expecting another  letter from you any day old Sweetheart. I am always looking for a letter from my own Darling Mother. Oh, Mum, you won’t see my poems go through the ‘Weekly’. I had a short kind letter from the Lady Editor informing me that they were far too long for their use. I will make a special letter of them & send them to you, most of the lads have a copy of them quite a few have sent them home. I never bothered sending them to you as it would have been nice to have you see them in your ‘Weekly’, but it wasn’t to be. In the small parcel I have mailed you are a few Souvenirs & photos of Palestine Cities. Wog kids chase me when on leave to buy them, some I bought in Tel Aviv, some in Jerusalem . Going to Jerusalem the bus I was in had to climb & climb quite a height over a range & then down a big long incline. The City itself is nothing to look at, big old buildings, a dirty drab colour, scattered about among hills, a fair bit of green trees & parks & flowers & hedges etc.

If you study the Jerusalem photos you will see one of The Seven Sisters, turns in the road down the long grade. Arrived in town, the kids are there in droves asking me ‘Shoe shine George. I order Steak & Eggs at a Café “St James” & by the way it is nothing like our own Steak & Eggs in Aussie. The kids are not allowed inside, so I sit on the veranda rail in the warm sunshine outside & have a shoe shine, it costs ... & they earn it on the big ‘Crushers’. I am surrounded by all the breeds, white, black & brindle, all with something to sell. I tell then ‘Imshey’, Go to Blazes, but the only way to loose them is back to my table. We call for beer, but George can’t oblige, he waves his hands & is sorry, but beer cannot be sold before the stroke of twelve. A tourist guide comes along, for 300 Mils each, he will take five Aussies & show them the sights of the Holy City . The deal is made & out we go & pile into Michael’s car. He spruiks his pieces as we cruise along & what a piece, he must have learnt it the same as I used to learn poems, We would suddenly stop, pile out, follow Michael some distance, listen to him say his rigmarole, back in  & off again and he never stopped talking once during that three hour tour. I only remember a few places we visited, it was all so quick & we went to so many different places & that Christian Arab as Michael described himself as, never once halted for breath, & by the time we finished I didn’t remember whether the Jews gathered at the Wailing Wall or the Well of the Three Wise Men, whether the Crusaders flattened the Church of Gethsemane, or whether they built it, or the Church of All Nations.

However, Michael carried out his contract, he took us into beautiful big Churches, where I had to take my blutches off & tread on the lovely carpets. Churches that are reputed to be thousands of years old, that high that to gaze up at the heavy rafters & so on I couldn't help but wonder what kind of people there were here then. I can’t see these Wogs of the present time doing the jobs. We gazed at a huge building which we were told was the 6th A.G.H. ( Australian General Hospital ) & then the 4th A.G.H.. One building, I forget which, was built by the Ex Kaiser Bill, & the other was financed by Rockfellow, who I gather is a train jumper in America . Into more Churches, shown eight olive trees in trees in the Garden of Gethsemane of enormous age & very sacred. From there to the big British Cemetery where I was told by the Keeper, there are one hundred and forty odd Australians of the L. Horse sleeping & one poor lonely War Nurse, also Aust. Quite a crowd of N.Z & British & dozens of Unknown. The Graveyard is a credit to everyone looking after it & you will see by the photos, which you will give to old Ch Kendall, after looking at them, how row after row of clean graves are lined with every kind of flower that grows. Inside the Care-taker took us & we signed a big Visitors Book & believe me there is some Aussie names written between it’s bulky pages, and Wreaths; beautiful Wreaths line the walls inside the big Dome, sent by every Nation & always kept like everything else in the place, Spic & Span.

Away again, but by now whether it was to the Old City or the New one I have no earthly (idea); maybe it was to Bethlehem or it might have been to the Dead Sea, which is 15 miles away which we sped out to, & where I wanted to bet Michael the 300 Mils that the water wouldn't hold me up, but with a funny smirking smile he bustled us into his flier once more. The next I remember was stopping at a place he swore was where we started from & it was one o’clock & I had a head full of Holy Talk & a tongue as dry as a lizard at Boulia in a Bedourie Storm. So we paid Michael the balance of his fare & had some beer & wine & then another feed & we may have had another beer, & went sightseeing per boot, up & down funny little narrow streets, where a big flash car was thought no more of than a ... a mule or a donkey. And so five o’clock arrives & I make for my bus again, & so home to Camp, and next day , ‘How was Jerusalem Davo; how did you go?’ and answering them, ‘Not a bad day Jim, not bad at all.’

Now Mumsi & kids, this is all for this time. It is quite enough to give my Officer a head-ache for this time if no one else. So I will close with the fondest love to my Darling Mumsie & all the Family, & give my kindest regards to all old Richmond people who ask after me, & write to me as often as you can manage Dear Mother & tell me you are well, Safe & Happy, as it leaves

                                                                                                            Your loving Son tonight

Kisses & Kisses, armfuls of Kisses to you.                                                David John